Full disclosure, I have no idea what I’m doing.
This pertains to everything I’ve done ever. In high school, I lived by the motto, “It’ll work itself out,” which was basically a way for me to justify my catastrophically chronic procrastination. But at that point in my life, everything, for the most part, did in fact work itself out. Probably because I had a congregation of people holding me up and supporting me. Unfortunately, for young, foolish me, when I got to college I learned fast and hard that everything was not as easy as the daydream that was high school.
Up until college, I had sort of been moonwalking my way through life, always having an understanding of what the next step was and repeating that step over and over until it looked good.
I took all of the required courses in high school and even threw in a few AP classes to show my parents that I was as smart as my siblings and to give them some bragging rights (you’re welcome). English was my favorite subject, and I always had a knack for writing, but knew as a first generation Ghanaian American I would bring nothing but dishonor if I chose to pursue a writing career when I went to university.
Realizing that my moonwalking lifestyle would not work in college, I began a more precise waltz, carefully moving with all the blows that were thrown my way freshman year.
I entered Quinnipiac as a business undeclared major. This wasn’t even my idea. My uncle, who majored in mechanical engineering, suggested that I would do well in the business field and reassured me that the economy would make a turn for the better after the damage of the 2008-09 recession.
So I entered the School of Business, but I had no idea what I wanted to do with business. To be honest, I’m not sure I knew exactly what “business” was, and to this day, I’m not really sure (please refer back to the very first sentence).
In my first class of freshman year, it seemed as though all my peers had a leg up on me. It was as if everyone had acquired of some source of knowledge, prior to classes beginning, that I had failed to obtain. It felt as though they were all on the third step of the waltz, while I was just learning what a waltz even was. I could hear Les Miserables’ Marius Pontmercy singing the lyric in the background of my life, “I’m doing everything all wrong.”
So, I decided to audition for a dance team on campus, because I had always regretted not joining the team in my high school. At the first audition, they made it clear that they were only looking to add a handful of people to their team. Regardless, I tried my best.
I didn’t make it onto their team.
The second audition went a little better, so I thought. I waited eagerly to see if I would get a callback. I didn’t, and at some point after that, I sort of just stopped trying.
When I retreated home for the summer after my first year at Quinnipiac, I found myself reading a letter that I had written to myself during my senior year of high school. The school had mailed the letters out promptly at the end of our freshman year.
I felt discouraged reading the note I had written myself. I wrote with such high hopes for my future. I expected myself to maintain my GPA and be a leader at the school I chose to attend. I had hoped that I would not let my fear of failure and self doubt get in the way of my success. Looking back at my first year, I could see that I was still moonwalking my way through life. I had not done anything noteworthy enough to make my younger self proud. That was the biggest wake up call of all. I had failed myself.
Everyone defines failure differently. For me, it was the sinking feeling I had when I realized I had basically wasted my first year at college. It was seeing the look on my parents’ faces and the disappointed tone in their voices when my grades weren’t what they expected. It was knowing that I had not provided them with the bragging rights that I had once given them.
I realized that I had to stop dancing my way through life and plant my feet firmly to reality.
Sophomore year, I made the best decision of my life and joined The Chronicle (shameless plug). Now, as a finance major, I had no idea what Associated Press (AP) style was and had never taken a journalism class in my life, and I still haven’t. All I knew was that I liked to write, and we all know that saying: “If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.” Very true.
The Chronicle provided me with the foundation that I needed to tie myself to reality. It gave me a sense of responsibility that I had previously lacked.
I became more self aware of the things that I did, not just from joining The Chronicle, but also by surrounding myself with people who were hell-bent on forging a path for themselves.
A few months ago, I found myself in a room waiting to be interviewed for a potential summer internship. I was up against students from schools such as Boston University and Baruch College. I knew that I was supposed to be worried, or anxious, or something, but I wasn’t.
I was aware of my capabilities. I knew of my strengths and weaknesses as a student and as a potential intern. In that moment, I thought back to my freshman year and the overwhelming feelings of failure and disappointment. I took that memory with me into the interview because I knew I was no longer that person.
It was clear that they were only looking to have a handful of students join their summer internship program. Regardless, I tried my best.
I made it into their program.
Failure is not a bad thing. In fact, it is probably the most important part of living. One must learn how not to succumb to their failure, but rather learn and grow from it. Failure is not something to be feared but rather something to equip yourself with.
So, while the pathway to more success may seem dark and endless, I promise, even if you find yourself facing a closed door, you will find the key.